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'Deplorable' football yob avoids jail after mocking death of young mascot at match

News'Deplorable' football yob avoids jail after mocking death of young mascot at match

A football fan whose actions were slammed as ‘utterly deplorable’ has avoided jail after he mocked the death of the team’s young mascot at a football match.

Dale Houghton, 32, has been sentenced to 12 weeks’ custody, suspended for 18 months after he admitted a public order offence at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court last month following an incident at a match between Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland on Friday, September 29.

He has also been ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and must complete 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

In the incident, Houghton – along with another man – laughed as they held up a picture of team mascot Bradley Lowery at Hillsborough stadium.

District Judge Marcus Waite said: “You showed callous disrespect to a brave young man who was rightly held in the highest esteem by football fans everywhere.”

The young boy died at the age of just six-years-old in 2017 after battling neuroblastoma.

He was a mascot for his beloved club and, in the months before his death, led England out at Wembley alongside former Black Cats striker Jermain Defoe.

Pictures circulated on X, formerly Twitter, showing Houghton, from Rotherham, holding up a picture of Bradley to the camera while at the match.

At an earlier hearing on October 2, District Judge James Gould told him “your actions are utterly deplorable”.

Judge Gould told him he had seen the photograph and that he knew exactly what he was doing when holding it up.

He said: “You are holding up your phone and you were plainly revelling in what you were doing.”

At the hearing, Houghton listened as Bradley’s mother, Gemma Lowery said: “This image has made me feel so many emotions, I find it hard to put into words.

“I feel upset that these two men have used this image of Bradley to get a reaction from the Sunderland fans.”

She said his actions were “disrespectful” to her son and mocked other children who are suffering with cancer.

A fundraising page set up by Sheffield Wednesday fans after the incident has raised more than £18,500.

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